As you may know, I had a really good experience with the first game in GMT’s Lunchtime Series called Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61. This series of card driven games is designed as fast playing small footprint games that can be played by both new players and veterans alike. I have played Fort Sumter over 30 times with my wife and she still is interested in playing it from time to time. So when a new game in the line was announced last year I was very interested. Red Flag Over Paris: 1871, The Rise and Fall of the Paris Commune covers the two months of confrontation between the Communards and the government in Versailles during the 1871 Paris Commune. Players will take control of one of these factions and fight for control over Paris. But, you will also need to win the hearts and minds of the French population, as the board is divided into two areas, including military and political, as well as being divided into several dimensions (Political Institutions, Public Opinion, Paris neighborhoods, and the forts on the outskirts of the city). The game forces players to make tough decisions like when to focus on political influence or military dominance and how to optimize limited resources.

We have agreed to provide a home for this series of quick articles on the history behind the cards involved in the game. We are lucky to be able to bring these articles to you and will be hosting a series of 9 posts over the next few months.

*Note: The cards and their event text are still the prototype version only intended for playtesting and the design and the event might still change prior to final development.

History Behind the Cards #9: Freemason Parade

Freemasonry was widespread among France’s political elites in the late 19th century. In 1871, Masons were on both sides of the barricades during the Paris Commune, and at least 20 masons were members of the Commune Council. They continuously worked toward de-escalation of tension and attempted various conciliation efforts. 

On the 29th of April, they paraded on the capital’s fortifications, risking their lives, and sent a delegation to Versailles to negotiate with Adolphe Thiers. The Versailles army ceased fire and gave them free passage as some officers were also part of the brotherhood, like Général Montaudon. Unfortunately, the Versailles government didn’t listen to the freemasons’ plea for peace, and refused to come to open negotiations or establish a cease-fire.

As is the case with most grey cards in Red Flag Over Paris, the Freemason Parade is a powerful neutral event for de-escalation. In this specific case, it enables the option to decrease military presence from both sides in a single space and gives the player some political credit for it. This is one of many events that enables the trade of strength to shift it to another in a powerful way. The ability to know when and how to do such actions is one of the key aspects of optimizing limited resources in Red Flag Over Paris. It has a constraint though: to be able to activate it, the player needs to be the initiative player: should you keep the initiative and let your opponent go last to play this event? Or do you keep the Freemasons as an asset for the Final Crisis? If so, are you sure you will still have the initiative then?

And with that, this History Behind the Cards series has come to an end although we are working with Developer Joe Dewhurst to host another series of cards for the new P500 game called Vijayanagara: The Deccan Empires of Medieval India, 1290-1398. I want to personally thank designer Fred Serval for his tireless efforts in not only designing and developing Red Flag Over Paris, but in doing the research into the history in order to create not only a playable game but also a tool to teach about the happenings in Paris in 1871 in this short but interesting period of history. The game is nearing completion and is currently in Final Art and is one of the next games to get a print slot which means that it is tentatively shipping in approximately 4-6 months.

In case you have missed the posts in the series over the past year, you can catch up here by visiting the links below:

#1 – Victor Hugo

#2 – Les Cantinières

#3 – Les Amis des l’Ordre

#4 – Georges Clémenceau

#5 – Otto Von Bismarck

#6 – Louise Michel

#7 – Walery Wroblewski

#8 – Adolphe Thiers

If you are interested in Red Flag Over Paris: 1871, The Rise and Fall of the Paris Commune, you can pre-order a copy for the special P500 price of $28.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link:

We also published an interview with designer Fred Serval and if you are interested you can read that at the following link: